According to the EPA, plastic is one of the most produced materials in the world, yet sadly, it’s also the least recycled. Plastic takes hundreds of years to degrade, harming our environment in the process.
It might seem impossible to avoid, but there are numerous ways to reduce your use of plastic. Check out these helpful tips to save you money while also helping to reduce individual plastic use.
Green Up Your Beauty Routine
Think of how much plastic sits on your bathroom counter, drawers, or shower. The zero-waste advocates have built momentum in recent years to create more sustainable beauty and hygiene products. Swapping plastic shampoo bottles and soaps for bars wrapped ecologically can reduce waste significantly.
Get a Stainless Steel Water Bottle
According to the NRDC, bottled water is less healthy than tap water, despite big bottle companies’ marketing efforts to convince us otherwise. When a plastic bottle is recycled more than once to drink water, it can release toxins that can harm your health. The healthiest and most planet-friendly option is to own a stainless steel water bottle that you can carry around and reuse thousands of times.
Pay Attention to the Packaging
It is almost impossible to get away with a plastic-free trip to the grocery store, and if you shop at a bulk food store, most of your groceries come wrapped in plastic. When shopping for groceries or other items, choose loose items you can pack in your reusable bags. When buying packaged goods, choose items sold in glass, aluminum, or paper packaging when possible.
Get Bamboo Toothbrushes
Bamboo toothbrushes are a great alternative to traditional plastic toothbrushes. This simple swap can help you reduce your environmental impact and is a perfect start to going green by replacing your everyday products. If you don’t have access to bamboo toothbrushes, you can opt for reusable ones with a rechargeable head to help significantly minimize waste.
Avoid Excessive Food Packaging
When looking for more sustainable options in the supermarket, try cutting down on the plastic you buy. Loose veggies and fruits are cheaper than prepackaged alternatives, making a nice bonus for your efforts.
Use Reusable Straws
Traditional plastic straws are bad news for our environment, oceans, and marine life. Next time you order a drink or beverage, consider whether you need a straw. You can carry your reusable straws—made of silicone or stainless steel—to avoid using plastic straws.
Use Refill Stations Or Detergents
Items like laundry detergents make avoiding plastic containers difficult. However, according to the LA Times, there’s good news. You can go to many different places to refill your old bottles (or glass/recycled bottles) with liquid products instead of buying new containers.
Say No to Disposable Cutlery
We’ve all taken food to go and found the only offered cutlery is plastic. While planning for every situation is impossible, consider carrying spoons or forks in your bag or acquiring on-the-go cutlery.
Buy Clothes Made From Natural Materials
Acquiring clothes made from natural materials such as cotton, linen, hemp, or bamboo is a fabulous way to reduce plastic usage. Unlike synthetic materials like acrylic, polyester, and nylon, these natural materials are biodegradable.
Carry Reusable Bags
We typically use plastic bags for only a few minutes before throwing them away. While many people own reusable bags these days, it is a challenge to remember to take them with you to the store. One way to remember is to keep them near your door, in your handbag, in your car, or your coat pocket.
Switch to Glass Containers
Glass is a great food storage option for replacing plastic bags and containers. While you can purchase new glass containers, you can also repurpose the glass packaging used for items you’ve already purchased to store leftovers, freeze food, or display flowers. You can repurpose any shape and size of container or jar, and soon enough, you’ll have a collection that meets all your needs.
Make Your Period Waste-Free
You can use numerous sustainable options to cut down on period product waste. From menstrual cups to reusable pads, these eco-friendly choices reduce the amount of packaging most pads and tampons require. You can also find disposable items without plastic applicators, which diminishes a mind-blowing amount of plastic waste annually.
This originally appeared on Planet Natural.
Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa's work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.